Often seen as the ultimate test faced by trainee ski instructors, the Euro Speed Test or “Eurotest” is the nemesis of many. But what is it? What makes it so difficult and how does it feel to pass?
The Eurotest is a dual part assessment required by most European ski instructors bodies to achieve the highest qualification. It is made up of the European Mountain Security (EMS) and the Speed Test, commonly referred to as The Eurotest. Different systems require instructors to take the test at various stages. For BASI instructors, it forms part of the Level 4 International Ski Teaching Diploma (ISTD).
The speed test is a timed Giant Slalom race that compares competitors against the best skiers in the world. Men are required to come in within 18% of their time and women 24%.
The race organisers appoint representatives called “openers” to set the time at each race. Each of these openers must have scored sub 50 FIS points and are selected from various countries with our very own Jas Bruce opening on behalf of Britain and BASI. Each opener is calibrated and given a coefficient, this is then used to compare them to the world’s best.
On the day of each Eurotest a group of openers will race the course. The fastest two times are then adjusted according to their racers coefficient and their average becomes the base time for the run. It is then down to the racers to use their two chances to come within 18/24% of the base times.
This requires around a minute of nerves, skill, power and mental strength. The average British pass rates of 7% shows just how gruelling a challenge this is.
Amy from our team in Tignes says of the Eurotest “Many aspiring BASI level 4s would probably say the Eurotest is the biggest hurdle to get through. I’d agree, but it was also the module I most enjoyed. It’s very different to other modules as there’s nothing subjective about it – you don’t need to look good, you just need to ski fast and you’re either in or you’re out.”
She recalls “You have to get yourself into the best physical, technical and psychological position you can and do your best with whatever is thrown at you on the day. The rest – the openers, the weather, the snow, the pitch, the set – is out of your hands.
Race training can be infuriating at times, constantly working to shave tenths, even hundredths of a second off a GS run. But with the biggest lows come the greatest highs.
I’d say the biggest challenges for me were not just physical but also psychological.
I always quite enjoyed the pressure on race day and I often felt I performed better on race days than in training, shown by several near misses. It was the training where physically and psychologically I had to work to make sure I got the most from it and wasn’t left feeling demoralised or questioning my ability. It was working on these factors that I felt would lead to consistency in the gates and turn the near misses into a pass.”
Managing to become one of the elite 7% can be a game changer for many. All of the BASI Level 4 modules push instructors and require a high level of knowledge and skill. But no other test gives candidates under a minute to make it or break it.
The psychological pressure of the race is almost as challenging as the physical demand. So how does it feel to have the Eurotest in the bag?
For Amy “There are so many words to describe passing – the main ones (in order!) are: shock, disbelief, relief and pure elation. It’s a feeling like no other and one I’ll never forget. It’s been a long road, and my biggest challenge to date, but so worthwhile. Now I just feel light, like a weight’s been lifted. I think my family and friends who’ve supported me along the way probably feel the same!”
So if you have smashed the Eurotest this season then well done – you are our heroes! If you are looking forward to taking on the challenge next year then we wish you all the best. Go smash it!